Why Eddie George won’t make the Hall of Fame

While compiling stats for comparing Chris Johnson to some of the all-time NFL greats, I came across Eddie George’s name quite a few times. Eddie ranks tenth in league history for the most rushing yards in his first two seasons, the most favorable stat for him.
 
Eddie’s worst stat is one that Titans fans are far too familiar with, his yards per carry average. That average was a respectable 4.1 ypc in his rookie season and still a fairly decent 3.94 for his first four years. Eddie’s next year, when he had career highs with 1,509 yards rushing on 403 attempts, also marked the downturn of his career. Eddie’s average in subsequent years dropped to 3.0, 3.4, 3.3 and 3.3 ypc. His career average fell to a very mediocre (at best) 3.64 yards per attempt.

 
As much as I liked Eddie and respected him, I just don’t believe he’s Hall of Fame worthy, as some Titans fans seem to think. Eddie will of course receive consideration but the competition is too tough. There will be too many players competing for too few places. His chances are slim at best, even before his yards per carry average is considered.
 
I compared Eddie’s numbers with those of four groups of running backs and it doesn’t look good. When the HoF selection committee considers Eddie, they’ll see that his numbers compare to the top backs of the last 40 years as follows.
 
Hall of Fame RBs who played since the 1970 merger
Player RshYds Y/A Y/G YFS APY TDs 1AP PB MVP SB
 Emmitt Smith 18,355 4.16 81.2 21,579 21,579 175 4 8 1 3
 Walter Payton 16,726 4.36 88.0 21,264 21,803 125 5 9 2 1
 Barry Sanders 15,269 4.99 99.8 18,190 18,308 109 6 10 2 0
 Eric Dickerson 13,259 4.43 90.8 15,396 15,396 96 5 6 1 0
 Tony Dorsett 12,739 4.34 73.6 16,293 16,293 90 1 4 0 1
 Marcus Allen 12,243 4.05 55.1 17,654 17,654 144 2 6 1 1
 Franco Harris 12,120 4.11 70.1 14,407 14,640 100 1 9 0 4
 Thurman Thomas 12,074 4.20 66.3 16,532 16,532 88 2 5 1 0
 John Riggins 11,532 3.89 64.9 13,342 13,342 116 1 1 1 1
 O.J. Simpson 10,539 4.74 86.4 13,378 14,368 76 5 6 1 0
 Earl Campbell 9,407 4.30 81.8 10,213 10,213 74 3 5 3 0
 Larry Csonka 8,081 4.30 55.3 8,901 8,901 68 2 5 0 2
 Leroy Kelly 7,274 4.20 53.5 9,555 12,329 90 3 6 0 0
 Floyd Little 6,323 3.90 54.0 8,741 12,157 54 1 5 0 0
Average 11,853 4.28 72.9 14,675 15,251 100 2.9 6.1 0.9 0.9
Eddie George 10,441 3.64 74.0 12,668 12,668 78 1 4 0 0
EG % of avg 88% 85% 101% 86% 83% 78% 34% 66% 0% 0%
where
Y/A = rushing yards per attempt
Y/G = rushing yards per game
YFS = yards from scrimmage
APY = all-purpose yards
1AP = first-team All-Pro selections
PB = Pro Bowls
MVP = league MVP seasons
SB = Super Bowls won
 
When the selectors compare Eddie to his contemporaries, they’ll see that this next group, composed of players not yet in the HoF, has stats quite a bit better than Eddie’s. Four of them –Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk –are near locks to be enshrined. Edgerrin James has the next best chance. It should be tougher for Fred Taylor, Corey Dillon, Warrick Dunn, Ricky Watters and Tiki Barber, but they all have a much better chance than Eddie.
 
non-HoF RBs since 1970 with better stats than Eddie George
Player RshYds Y/A Y/G YFS APY TDs 1AP PB MVP SB
 Curtis Martin 14,101 4.01 83.9 17,430 17,430 100 1 5 0 0
 Jerome Bettis 13,662 3.93 71.2 15,111 15,111 94 2 6 0 1
 LaDainian Tomlinson 12,490 4.34 88.6 16,445 16,445 153 3 5 1 0
 Marshall Faulk 12,279 4.33 69.8 19,154 19,154 136 3 7 2 1
 Edgerrin James 12,246 4.04 82.7 15,610 15,610 91 1 4 0 0
 Fred Taylor 11,540 4.63 79.0 13,918 13,918 74 0 1 0 0
 Corey Dillon 11,241 4.29 74.9 13,154 13,340 89 0 4 0 1
 Warrick Dunn 10,967 4.11 60.6 15,306 15,664 64 0 3 0 0
 Ricky Watters 10,643 4.06 73.9 14,891 14,891 91 0 5 0 1
 Tiki Barber 10,449 4.71 67.9 15,632 17,357 68 1 3 0 0
Average 11,962 4.25 75.3 15,665 15,892 96.0 1.1 4.3 0.3 0.4
Eddie George 10,441 3.64 74.0 12,668 12,668 78 1 4 0 0
EG % of avg 87% 86% 98% 81% 80% 81% 91% 93% 0% 0%
 
Next are players in the same boat as Eddie. They all have similar numbers and will have to watch as members of the previous group are enshrined while they are not. One thing that hurts Eddie as he competes with the others in this group, besides his ypc average, is his lack of a league MVP award or a Super Bowl ring.
 
non-HoF RBs since 1970 with similar stats to Eddie George
Player RshYds Y/A Y/G YFS APY TDs 1AP PB MVP SB
 Jamal Lewis 10,607 4.17 81.0 12,486 12,486 62 1 1 0 1
 Ottis Anderson 10,273 4.01 56.4 13,335 13,335 86 1 2 0 2
 Shaun Alexander 9,453 4.32 76.9 10,973 10,973 112 1 3 1 0
Average 10,111 4.17 71.4 12,265 12,265 86.7 1.0 2.0 0.3 1.0
Eddie George 10,441 3.64 74.0 12,668 12,668 78 1 4 0 0
EG % of avg 103% 87% 104% 103% 103% 90% 100% 200% 0% 0%
 
Finally, we look at four current players who will probably end up in the third group, the same boat Eddie’s in. They are slightly behind Eddie in most categories, but should catch or surpass him in many.
 
Clinton Portis needs only 745 rushing yards to catch Eddie. Thomas Jones needs 1,224 and could also catch Eddie this year. He rushed for over 1,100 yards each of the last five seasons and had a career high 1,402 last year. Ahman Green will be in the new UFL this summer but there’s still a chance he could sign with someone later in the year and add a few more yards to his career total. Ricky Williams is 1,549 yards behind Eddie but hasn’t had that many carries in the last five seasons. He still has some tread on the tires.
 
Active players with stats almost as good as Eddie George
Player RshYds Y/A Y/G YFS APY TDs 1AP PB MVP SB
 Clinton Portis 9,696 4.46 89.8 11,659 11,659 78 0 2 0 0
 Thomas Jones 9,217 4.04 62.3 11,075 11,346 65 0 1 0 0
 Ahman Green 9,205 4.48 62.2 12,088 13,722 74 0 4 0 0
 Ricky Williams 8,892 4.11 77.3 11,274 11,274 69 1 1 0 0
Average 9,253 4.27 72.9 11,524 12,000 71.5 0.3 2.0 0 0
Eddie George 10,441 3.64 74.0 12,668 12,668 78 1 4 0 0
EG % of avg 113% 85% 102% 110% 106% 109% 400% 200%
 
As you can see when you compare Eddie to each of those four groups, there are a lot of backs with stats better than his. And that’s even before considering his career 3.64 yards per carry average, which could be a deal-killer.
 
In compiling all the RB stats in the series on CJ, I kept noticing that Eddie’s ypc average was poor, no matter which players it was compared to. Eddie is currently 23rd on the all-time rushing list, and you guessed it, his ypc average is the lowest by far among those players. I then decided to compare his average to all the players with over 5,000 yards rushing. There are 109 players who have accomplished that feat and Eddie’s ypc average is 107th best. That’s hardly Hall of Fame material.
 
If Eddie has any chance at all to make it, it will be because of something John McClain said. Eddie and Jim Brown are the only two backs to gain 10,000 yards without missing a game. Or maybe McClain said it was without missing a start. Either way, McClain said it was something that would carry a lot of weight with the selection committee, which he’s a member of. Titans fans had better hope he’s right, because Eddie will need all the help he can get.
Quantcast